Hopes to have mass public transport to decongest the Kampala Metropolitan area has faded again after Tondeka Bus Service and government failed to deliver at least 400 of the 980 buses they promised this September.
Tondeka Bus Service and the government pledged to start operations on September 1 [Tuesday] with 400 buses plying different routes to-and-from city suburbs.
They were to import another 200 buses every month until they reached a total of 980 by January 2021.
Tondeka Bus Service officials have confirmed that they will be unable to deliver the buses this month and they could not even tell when they are scheduled to deliver on their promise or start operations.
The Tondeka Metro Bus Service spokesperson, Mr Roland Ssebuwufu, attributed the delay in fulfilling their promises to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic worldwide.
“You are aware that the Covid-19 came into the mix. We are finalising on the arrangement to process. We shall fulfil our promises,” Mr Ssebuwufu said.
Asked about the timeline of delivering the buses, he said: “I have no details to share with you now, but the buses will be on the road soon.”
Tondeka Metro Bus Service was to work with Ashok Leyland to deliver the buses.
The bus service was billed as a game changer in the decongestion of the transport system in Kampala City.
The chairperson of the Tondeka Bus Service, Mr Peter Kimbowa, said they were to offer more than 20,000 jobs to Ugandans.
Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) was also planning to give it a service contract that would see the removal of boda bodas and taxis from the city centre. The former Executive Director of KCCA, Mr Andrew Kitaka, had even predicted that once Tondeka starts operations, there would not be congestion by this month.
A source in the Ministry of Works and Transport said the project is on its deathbed as the government was reluctant to give the owners a guarantee to get a loan to buy the buses.
There were plans that the services be bankrolled by the government with a loan from Exim Bank to a tune of Shs600 billion.
The source said there were serious doubts that the project was feasible in terms of profitability.
Ms Susan Kataike, the spokesperson in the Ministry of Works, declined to comment on the project, saying the issues should be addressed to Gen Katumba Wamala [Minister of Works and Transport]. But Gen Wamala is said to be away on official duties.
Traffic jam has continued to cause inconveniences to passengers in the Kampala Metropolitan area. Many city commuters, who are in a 25-kilometre radius, waste more than five hours a day in jam, to and from work.
Lord mayor says
The Kampala Lord Mayor, Mr Erias Lukwago, protested the implementation of the project and wondered why government was giving a loan to a private company and not KCCA to procure the buses.